Children/Families

“It costs us more to ignore hunger than it does to eliminate it.”

“It costs us more to ignore hunger than it does to eliminate it.”

I recently attended the Maine Nutrition Council’s annual conference. One of the speakers was Courtney Kennedy, nutrition and education manager for Good Shepherd Food-Bank (GSFB). The reliance of Maine families on food pantries has increased dramatically in recent years because of high unemployment, stagnant wages, increased food prices and costly fuel. Kennedy shared some staggering statistics: • 170,000 Mainers or 13 percent live below the poverty line (around $22,000 for a family of four). • 200,000 Mainers are considered food insecure. Food insecurity means that a family does not know if they will be able to buy all the food it needs before the next paycheck comes in. • 54,000 or 21 percent of Maine children live below the poverty line. • 120,400 or 45 percent of Maine’s children live in low-income households. • 86,900 or 32 percent of children received SNAP benefits in 2012, an increase of 40 percent compared to 2008. • 1 in 4 children is considered food insecure. Kennedy said 35 percent of Maine’s food insecure population does not qualify for government assistance and must rely on charity to feed their family. GSFB is the largest hunger relief organization in Maine, distributing food to more than 600 partner agencies (food pantries, meal sites and youth programs) all over the state. It distributes 14 million pounds of food annual. Because of its size, GSFB has the purchasing power to stretch donations – turning $1 into four meals for a Maine family in need. Food insecurity costs all of us – to the tune of about $167.5 billion dollars per year nationally, according to a report by the Center for American Progress and Brandeis University. This figure reflects “the combination of lost economic productivity, more expensive public education, avoidable health care costs, and the cost of charity to keep families fed.” The majority of that amount – $130.5 billion – is illness costs related to hunger and food insecurity. Remember that figure of $167.5 billion? What is even more outrageous is that, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap, the additional annual cost required to meet the food needs of those living with food insecurity in the United States is $21.8 billion per year, Kennedy said. “It costs us more to ignore hunger than it does to eliminate it,” she added. How does the Maine Dairy and Nutrition Council fit into this all? Well, the national association of milk processors (Hood, Oakhurst, Organic Valley, Horizon, etc.) – Milk Processors Education Program (Milk PEP) and Feeding America, which is the umbrella organization of entities like GSFB, have partnered to organize the Great American Milk Drive. The reason behind the Milk Drive is that milk is the most-requested nutritious food product requested but it is rarely donated because of its short shelf life. It averages out to less than one gallon of milk per year for each of the 37 million Americans that are served by food banks. When you hear about non-perishable food drives, milk is obviously not included. Milk is loaded with nine essential nutrients, including calcium and protein. The solution is monetary donations. You can help by donating as little as $5 to the Great American Milk Drive at milklife.com/give or text “Milk” to 27722. When you enter your zip code, it will ensure that the money is given to a food bank in your region. And keep your eyes open for Milk Drive events happening in Maine. Why is milk so important? For some great recipe ideas that will help you stretch your own budget, visit Feeding America’s Cooking Matters web site at cookingmatters.org/recipes....

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Flavored Milk: An Important Nutrient-Rich Choice

Flavored Milk: An Important Nutrient-Rich Choice

Flavored milk contains the same nine essential nutrients as white milk, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium – nutrients of concern of which many kids fail to get enough. On average, by the time they are 4 years old, children fall below the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommended dairy intake. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, meeting dairy recommendations can have lifelong health benefits, such as improved bone health, especially in children and adolescents. Current evidence shows intake of milk products, like milk, cheese and yogurt, is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and with lower blood pressure in adults. Flavored milk is a delicious way to help people of all ages consume essential vitamins and nutrients important for health. While there are some added sugars, flavored milk drinkers don’t have higher intakes of added sugars or total fats than children who do not consume flavored milk. And, they have higher intakes of calcium. Furthermore, the DGA recognize that small amounts of sugar added to nutrient-dense foods, such as reduced-fat milk products, may increase a person’s intake of such foods by enhancing palatability of these products, thus improving nutrient intake without contributing excessive calories. Flavored Milk Informational Materials: Pediatricians Talk About Flavored Milk Why Are Schools Serving Flavored Milk? – Download this Information Sheet (PDF) Flavored Milk The Facts Infographic 2011 – Download this Information Sheet (PDF) Flavored Milk Advertorial – Download this Information Sheet (PDF) Chocolate Milk Tasty Nutrition Customizable Ad – Download this Information Sheet (PDF) The Impact on Student Milk Consumption and Nutrient Intakes From Eliminating Flavored Milk in Schools – Download this Information Sheet (PDF)   Flavored Milk: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers What is flavored milk?  Flavored milk is cow’s milk with added flavoring and sweetener. It provides the same 9 essential nutrients – calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin (niacin equivalents) – found in white milk. It’s available in flavors such as chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavors in low-fat and fat-free varieties. Does the added sugar in flavored milk detract from its nutritional benefits? The opposite is true. Adding some sugar may help improve the appeal of nutritious foods. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognizes that a small amount of added sugars can be used to increase the palatability of nutrient-dense foods, such as fat-free chocolate milk. According to the American Heart Association, “when sugars are added to otherwise nutrient-rich foods, such as sugar-sweetened dairy products like flavored milk and yogurt and sugar-sweetened cereals, the quality of children’s and adolescents’ diets improves, and in the case of flavored milks, no adverse effects on weight status were found.” The American Academy of Pediatrics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and other groups agree that flavored milk is a positive trade-off for soft drinks, which are the primary source of added sugars in children’s diets. What is the dairy industry doing to reduce sugars in flavored milk? Although flavored milk contributes only 3 percent of the added sugars in children’s diets on average and provides the same nine essential nutrients as white milk, the dairy industry has been proactively working to improve flavored milk. Since 2006, the U.S. dairy industry has reduced added sugars by about 38 percent in the flavored milk offered in schools. Today, the majority of milk in schools is low-fat or fat-free, and the majority of flavored milk is at or below 150 calories, with an average of 134 – just 31 more calories than white milk. And, because choice is so important, there are versions of flavored milk in the marketplace with...

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Let MyPlate help you fill your plate.

Let MyPlate help you fill your plate.

With the introduction of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, the long-referenced food pyramid was replaced with MyPlate to help consumers put those guidelines into action and make healthier food choices. The shape may have shifted from a pyramid to a plate, but the message remains the same: dairy is an important part of every meal. It’s a fact: low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt are nutrient-rich food choices, and whether they are in the glass or on the plate, the dairy group contributes essential nutrients to every meal. The MyPlate tool is a great reminder of how important and easy it is to get a serving of low-fat or fat-free dairy at every meal, which is a good way to meet the recommended daily servings: 3 cups for those 9 and older 2 ½ cups for those ages 4-8 2 cups for those ages 2-3 The DGA say that most Americans are lacking in 4 major nutrients:  vitamin D, calcium, potassium and dietary fiber. Lucky for you that milk happens to be the #1 source for three of those four—vitamin D, calcium and potassium! So, add one more serving of dairy each day to help fill in those nutrient gaps, and enjoy the delicious taste in the process! To find out more about MyPlate and how it can help change the way you and your family eat, go to www.choosemyplate.gov. Visit their website...

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Nutrition Tracker Work Sheet

Nutrition Tracker Work Sheet

Download this Information Sheet (PDF)

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Lactose Intolerance

Lactose Intolerance

Whether you’re talking about a cold glass of milk, creamy yogurt or flavorful cheese, dairy foods taste great and offer a powerful nutritional punch. But those who are lactose intolerant or showing lactose intolerance symptoms don’t have to miss out on the great taste and health benefits of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods. Different people can handle different amounts of lactose, and there’s a solution to meet most needs in the dairy case – from lactose-free milk to dairy foods that are typically easier to digest. The following information offers the latest education materials, research, presentations, recipes and events related to lactose intolerance, as well as information on management strategies that can help individuals with lactose intolerance enjoy dairy foods and meet nutrient recommendations. You can also join the conversation by following #BeyondLI on Twitter.   Lactose Intolerance & Your Child- Download this Information Sheet (PDF) Help Your Patients Enjoy Dairy Again – Download this Information Sheet Fall in Love with Dairy Again- Download this Information...

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Just the Facts: Flavored Milk

Just the Facts: Flavored Milk

Download this Information Sheet (PDF)

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